Understanding Appraisals

Buying real estate is the most serious transaction many people will ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the parties participating are very familiar. The most recognizable entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to bankroll the transaction. And ensuring all aspects of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer is the title company.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, what party makes sure the property is worth the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the property inspection

Our first task at Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we pull information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C., we are an authority in knowing the worth of particular items in Staunton and Staunton City County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional way of valuing a house. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueDepending on the individual situations of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.But the appraised value is typically used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Blue Ridge Appraisal Co., L.L.C. will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.

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